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ADLEY EXPRESS CO. v. HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS

October 6, 1972

ADLEY EXPRESS COMPANY et al.
v.
HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS AND HELPERS, LOCAL NO. 107


Edward R. Becker, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECKER

EDWARD R. BECKER, District Judge.

 I. Preliminary Statement

 This case arises under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. Plaintiffs, some eighteen trucking companies and two industrial concerns in the metropolitan Philadelphia area who were parties to a collective bargaining agreement with defendant, Highway Truck Drivers and Helpers Local 107 (Local 107), seek some 1.5 million dollars in compensatory and exemplary damages for an alleged strike by Local 107 in breach of the no-strike provision of the agreement. The matter is now before us on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability, based upon certain record admissions of Local 107 in these proceedings.

 The events in question occurred between June 20 and June 25, 1965. They stemmed directly from a work stoppage that commenced on June 11, 1965, at the terminal of Roadway Express, Inc. (not a party to this action), whose employees were also represented by Local 107. The events occurring at Roadway have been detailed elsewhere and need not be repeated here. *fn1" This is the second motion for summary judgment filed by plaintiffs in this case. The first motion, filed on June 5, 1969, relied essentially upon the admissions contained in Local 107's answer to plaintiffs' complaint. That motion was denied by Judge Harold K. Wood of this Court on July 9, 1969. In a written opinion, 47 F.R.D. 356, Judge Wood held that the admissions of Local 107 in its Answer were insufficient, on three issues, to permit a determination of liability as a matter of law. Those three points were (1) "whether or not the conduct of the Union amounted to a strike"; (2) "whether, assuming that the conduct of the employees amounted to a strike, such actions were approved or ratified by the appropriate Union officers"; (3) whether "the acts of the defendants constituted an authorized strike with regard to each of the plaintiffs."

 Following this action of Judge Wood, the case was assigned to the docket of Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. The pretrial procedures thereupon initiated by Judge Higginbotham have, after a tortuous course, resulted in a substantially burgeoned record of admitted facts, which forms the basis of the summary judgment motion before us. The additional admissions were formalized by the filing of a Memorandum and Order by the undersigned on October 19, 1971. Since our decision on the present motion is so closely intertwined with that Memorandum, a copy of it is attached as an Appendix to this opinion.

 II. Statement of the Admitted Facts

 The facts now admitted, from which our decision on the renewed motion must stem, are as follows:

 The plaintiffs are eighteen motor carriers engaged in transporting freight and merchandise in interstate commerce and in local cartage, and two manufacturing concerns with substantial motor freight operations. Motor Transport Labor Relations, Inc. (MTLR) is a nonprofit Pennsylvania corporation organized for the purpose of representing its members in all labor relations matters between each member and any labor union representing employees of that member. Each plaintiff has been a member of MTLR at least since September 1, 1964. Defendant, Local 107, is a local union affiliated with the Eastern Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America. At all times material to plaintiffs' cause of action, the relationship between Local 107 and the motor carrier members of MTLR was governed by a collective bargaining agreement effective for the period from September 1, 1964, to March 31, 1967.

 Article 43, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement provided that:

 
The Union and the Employers agree that there shall be no strike, lockout, tie-up or legal proceedings without first using all possible means of a settlement as provided for in this Agreement, of any controversy which might arise.

 The collective bargaining agreement further provided in Article 43, Section 7 that the Union would furnish to the truckers a list of Union representatives who would have sole authority to act for Local 107 in calling or instituting strikes or any stoppages of work. From September 1, 1964, through at least June 20, 1965, Local 107 was represented by its executive officers and business agents in its relations with MTLR and the member companies of MTLR, including plaintiffs. At all times material to plaintiffs' cause of action, Michael Hession (Hession) was the secretary-treasurer and chief executive officer of Local 107.

 On or about June 11, 1965, a dispute arose between Roadway Express, Inc., a member company of MTLR, and its employees who were members of Local 107. On Sunday, June 20, 1965, Local 107 held a general membership meeting at the Hotel Philadephia in Philadelphia.

 All executive officers of Local 107 and all but one of its business agents were present at the meeting. At that meeting, regular business was dispensed with in order that the dispute between Local 107 and Roadway Express, Inc. might be discussed. Following discussion, Hession recommended that the Local 107 membership support the pre-existing Roadway strike by refusing to report to work for MTLR member companies, including plaintiffs. The membership of Local 107 unanimously voted in favor of this proposed general work stoppage directed against the member companies of MTLR, including the plaintiffs.

 The recommendation of Hession and the action of the membership in approving the recommendation was described in the official minutes of the June 20 meeting as follows:

 
Jack Wible from Harris Express then made a motion to dispense with the regular business so that the Roadway problem could be discussed. The motion was seconded by William Rinehart, put to a vote and unamiously [sic] passed.
 
On the subject Secretary Treasurer Michael Hession then recommended that the membership take a holiday until such time as the Roadway dispute was settled. The membership by acclimation unamiously [sic] decided to follow the recommendation.

 Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 21, Local 107 members who were employed by the members of MTLR, including each of the plaintiffs, failed to report to work.

 At approximately 11:00 a.m. on June 21, Judge Leo Weinrott of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County issued a preliminary injunction against Local 107 and its officers and business agents. Judge Weinrott's order in part enjoined Local 107 "and all other persons acting on [its] behalf" from "taking any action or pursuing any course of conduct which is intended to or has the necessary effect of violating, interfering with or disturbing the present contractual relationship between [MTLR] and Local No. 107." That evening a special membership meeting of Local 107 was held at the Hotel Philadelphia. The meeting was attended by all the officers and most of the business agents of Local 107. At the meeting Hession addressed the membership on the subject of the injunction issued by Judge Weinrott and stated that Local 107 and its members would be in violation of the injunction if the work stoppage continued.

 On Tuesday, June 22, employees of MTLR member companies (including plaintiffs) who were members of Local 107 continued their failure to report for work. The same day, upon finding that Local 107 had not complied with the provisions of the preliminary injunction, Judge Weinrott issued an order directing the Sheriff of Philadelphia County to use all necessary resources to enforce the provisions of the injunction. On Friday, June 25, after a hearing, Judge Weinrott found the officers and business agents of Local 107 in civil contempt of the preliminary injunction and ordered that for each day they failed to comply with the injunction, Local 107 would be fined $10,000 and each officer and business agent $500, the fine to be paid to MTLR.

 On Saturday, June 26, Local 107 held a special membership meeting at Convention Hall in Philadelphia. The meeting was attended by all the executive officers and most of the business agents of the local. Hession informed the union membership of Judge Weinrott's civil contempt order of June 25 and ordered the membership to return to work. Following that meeting, union employees of MTLR member companies, including plaintiffs, went back to work. By stipulation of counsel dated July 1, 1965, further hearing on the preliminary injunction entered by Judge Weinrott was waived, and the injunction was made permanent, without prejudice to the right of MTLR to seek damages.

 The city-wide work stoppage by the membership of Local 107 continued from June 21, 1965, through June 25, 1965. This stoppage was accompanied by violence and breaches of the peace on the part of members of Local 107, many of whom were arrested on criminal charges. During the work stoppage, the member companies of MTLR, including plaintiffs, were unable to use equipment located in the Philadelphia area in their operations, were unable to fulfill contracts of carriage, and were otherwise prevented from conducting their business operations.

 III. Discussion

 A. Elements Necessary to Establish Liability

 In order for plaintiffs to prevail on the issue of liability, they must establish four propositions as a matter of law: (1) the conduct of Local 107 amounted to a strike in violation of the collective bargaining agreement; (2) the strike was against each of the plaintiffs; (3) the strike continued from 12:01 a.m. on June 21, 1965, until June 26, 1965; and (4) Local 107 remained in breach of its collective bargaining agreement with plaintiffs throughout the period of the strike. These points, incidentally, are the same ones that Judge Wood, in his opinion, held were then still in dispute. Of course, in the present posture of the case, the plaintiffs can prevail only if on each of these points "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact" worthy of submission to a jury. F.R.Civ.P. 56(c). It hardly needs recitation that on summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the record facts before the court must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962). "[The] moving party . . . [has] the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact, and for these purposes the material it [lodges] must be viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party." Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970); Janek v. Celebrezze, 336 F.2d 828, 834 (3d Cir. 1964); Toppi v. United States, 327 F. Supp. 1277, 1278 (E.D.Pa.1971). All that is required to defeat a motion for summary judgment is that sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial. First Nat. Bank v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-289, 88 S. Ct. 1575, 20 L. Ed. 2d 569 (1968).

 With these guiding principles in mind, we proceed to consider whether the plaintiffs have met their burden on each essential issue.

 B. Did Local 107's Conduct Constitute a Strike Against Each of the Plaintiffs in Breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement? Did the Strike Continue Until June 26, 1965?

 The admitted facts posit that the June 20, 1965, meeting was a general membership meeting which all executive officers of Local 107 and all but one of its business agents attended. They establish that Michael Hession, the Local's chief executive officer, recommended that Local 107 members support the Roadway strike by refusing to report to work for MTLR member companies, and that the membership unanimously voted in favor of the proposed general work stoppage. It is also admitted that beginning at 12:01 a.m. on June 21, 1965, Union members failed to report to work at each of the plaintiff companies, and that the member companies of MTLR, including the plaintiffs, were unable to use their equipment, were unable to fulfill their contracts, and were otherwise prevented from conducting their business operations during the work stoppage. What genuine factual dispute can there be, then, over the proposition that the Union's conduct amounted to a strike in breach of Article 43, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement?

 Local 107's contention on this point is based on the official minutes of the June 20 meeting, indicating that the membership voted merely to follow Hession's recommendation that they "take a holiday" until the Roadway dispute was settled. The Union thus argues that it did not go on strike, but rather, it "took a holiday," and that the nomenclature the Union itself used in declaring the stoppage is a significant factor in the judicial determination of whether a ...


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